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neilestrick

Member Since 04 Oct 2011
Offline Last Active Today, 10:32 AM
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Topics I've Started

My New Kiln Lid

22 August 2014 - 10:43 AM

A year or two ago I posted some photos of a new experimental kiln lid for my large DaVinci kiln. Instead of being mortared together like the original lid, it used a compression frame to hold it together, similar to a Minnesota Flat Top design. That lid held up very well for a fair amount of time, but the bricks eventually started to crack. Seems they do not like being compressed along their narrow side. I had though this might be a problem from the beginning, and it eventually was. So this time I rebuilt the lid with the bricks being compressed from the large side, spreading the pressure out over a much larger surface area. I also mortared the bricks together so give it even more strength. The lid is made in two sections, held together by the compression frame. Making it in one big slab would be too large and cause a lot of cracking.

 

Attached File  New-Lid.jpg   245.05KB   1 downloads

 

The best thing about this lid is that it's now 4-1/2" thick instead of the usual 3". The added insulation should help with the efficiency of the kiln quite a bit. The lid weighs 250+ pounds, more than the original lid springs could handle, so I attached an electric hoist to raise and lower it. The hoist hangs on a piece of 1-1/4" pipe, which allows the hoist to swivel as it works, and line up in the direction it's pulling.

 

So far it all seems to be working well. I did my first bisque with the lid last night, and nothing fell apart. The first cone 6 firing will be in a couple of days.


Voltage

12 August 2014 - 09:31 PM

There's been some talk on the forum lately about new kilns and appropriate breaker/fuse sizes, so I thought I'd share an odd experience I had today with a customer's kiln.

 

I was doing a checkup on an older Paragon (pre-1994) with the oldest digital controller I'd ever seen. It had an old phone pad for the buttons- only the second one of those I'd ever seen. There was no cone fire mode, only custom program, and that would only allow one step- X rate of climb to Y degrees and off. So no slow heating with a faster climb in the middle or slowing at the end or anything like that. So that was pretty neat to see.

 

But the main reason I'm writing is to discuss the voltage situation at the customer's house. I checked the service voltage to her kiln and it read 259 volts! It should be at 240, give or take 3 or 4 degrees. Typically when I see high voltage it's 245-248. The most I'd ever seen was 251. So this was crazy high.

 

This was a big deal because the electrician who wired up the outlet for the kiln put in a 50 amp breaker. If this had been a normal 23x27 kiln that pulled 48 amps at 240 volts, it would have pulled close to 52 amps at 259 volts- too much for the 50 amp breaker. The customer's kiln was rated for 45 amps at 240 volts, so at the higher amperage it would be just barely under 50 amps, but still very likely to flip the breaker.

 

Electrical code says that resistance heating appliances like kilns should be on a breaker that s 25% greater than the actual draw of the kiln, so a 45 amp kiln should be on a 56.25 amp breaker, which doesn't exist, so you go up to the next size which is 60 amps. 48 amp kilns also need 60 amp breakers, although I have several customers who run them on 50 amps without problem, but clearly their voltage isn't too high.

 

You really can't control how high the voltage is, short of calling your electrical company and demanding that they do something about it, which they most likely will not do. However, I did suggest to my customer today that she call them because the voltage is so very high, and could possibly be a sign of a problem in the system somewhere. And she needs to call her electrician and have a larger breaker put in, which could also mean larger wire if they did not use wiring large enough for 60 amp service.


Calculating Firing Costs With External Digital Controller

15 January 2014 - 04:52 PM

Here's something I just figured out today. Seems obvious now that I realize it, but had never thought of it before:

 

I'm firing my little 1 cubic foot manual test kiln with some fusion buttons for my glaze formulation students. I just recently hooked it up an external Orton digital controller I got from a customer. For those of you who haven't used one, the way external controllers work is the kiln plugs into the controller unit via its regular power cord, and the controller sends power through the cord as needed to heat up the kiln. It cycles the kiln on and off like any digital controller, to control the rate of climb.

 

The kiln itself has a Sitter on it with a timer. You have to put a cone in the sitter that's higher than the projected firing (or just jam a piece of kiln shelf in it), push the power button, and turn all the knobs on high. Because power is only going through the sitter intermittently, as the relays in the digital control unit cycle the power on and off, the timer on the sitter only moves when there is power to the kiln. So at the end of a firing I can tell exactly how long the kiln was 'on', and calculate the cost of the firing by way of the wattage of the kiln. Awesome!


How's The Weather?

02 January 2014 - 02:35 PM

Looks like we scored 16-18 inches of snow in the last 48 hours. Blue skies finally showing through. How's your weather?